Recovery can be a long, difficult process. It can also be a very lonely process. Too many people with dependency issues are turned away from by fellow humans with the thought that their addiction makes them out as criminals, losers, or simply people with faulty characters.

Animals, however, don’t behave in this manner. Dogs, cats, birds, even reptiles, have the ability to be nonjudgmental. They can accept a person for who they are, and not who they have become because of an addiction.

This is why having a pet while in substance recovery can be beneficial. It’s been noted that interaction with an animal can release serotonin and dopamine in a person much in the same way drugs like heroin and cocaine releases the same two chemicals. Pets can also make a person relax which can ease cravings and withdrawals.

Keep reading to find out how having a pet while you’re in recovery can make your efforts to get healthy again a more tolerable process.


Having a pet opens you up to a two-way relationship: you take care of them, and they’ll take care of you. As for your part in this deal, you have to feed, groom, walk, train, play, and most of all, show attention to your pet.

Strive to be as nonjudgmental of them as they are of you. Include your pet in as many activities as you can. This will not only strengthen your bond with your nonhuman friend, but help your recovery as you find that with a pet, you have an important reason beyond yourself to stay sober.


A rambunctious rover or a playful pussy cat can certainly bring an amount of ease to your recovery process. A dog will get you out of the house for daily walks, or on the weekends, long hikes in the hills or runs on the beach. In fact, there’s a good chance that with a dog’s companionship, you might get back into your pre-addiction shape. As for a cat, look for your feline friend to enhance your hand-eye coordination as you two play. Cats are fast, and their playful little claws sharp. Try not to get scratched as you dangle a toy in front of your kitten’s piercing eyes and ready-to-strike paws.


Animals are very sensitive. Dogs, for example, have the ability to sense our mood swings, particularly if we’ve stumbled a bit in our recovery process. What’s reassuring is while humans can judge, criticize, or completely shun you if you’ve had a slip up in your recovery, an animal won’t have a negative opinion of you. And they definitely will not abandon you.

Sure, your pet may have its own type of reaction to your stumble, such as sorrow, anger, or disappointment through a temporarily cold shoulder and drooped tail. But in behaving this way, your animal wants you to know they care and worry about you. So treat them well and try not to disappoint them by failing in your pursuit of sobriety.


Just being near an animal can release the feel-good chemicals of serotonin and dopamine. Imagine what would happen if you had the opportunity to hold a dog or cat in your lap which you could pet and cuddle with?

Animals, without a doubt, can be amazing stress relievers. A lively pet might get you out for a fast walk or an easy jog, which can mitigate your own stress. Or an affectionate pet may just like to lay around and be close to you, which can be another source of relaxation.

Either way, your pet can be beneficial to your calmness by helping you forget your cravings and withdrawals.


It is important in your recovery process to rid yourself of old triggers that may have contributed to your addiction in the first place. Of course, these triggers can include relationships you may have had which you may have ended now that you’re in recovery. The problem is, leaving your old mates might have left you lonely in return.

Pets, however, can open up all sorts of new social opportunities for you. From clubs, online forums, or something as simple as a dog park, your animal can open you up to social groups you can join in order to meet new people who are less likely to trigger a relapse.


An animal can have far more medicinal potential and value than anything drug-related. Why? Because a pet can be a friend. A pet can help you get back into shape. A pet can also give you the responsibility you may have at one time doubted in yourself.

Steadfast unconditional love and companionship, all with a cold nose and wagging tail? Now that’s a relationship worth staying sober for.

If you or a loved one have an addiction to alcohol, contact BLVD Treatment Centers. At BLVD Treatment Centers we custom tailor our recovery programs within the safe and nurturing confines of our rehab treatment centers. Located throughout California, in Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego and in Portland, OR, our mission is to assess the severity of your addiction to help you achieve true recovery within 30 days. Call us now at 1-866.582.9844.


  1. 5 Ways Pets Can Help People Recover from Addiction, Retrieved April 28, 2016.

Pets and Recovery